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Here is the latest news in the highest-profile 2022 races in Rhode Island, from governor to Congress to mayor of Providence and beyond.
AUG. 9:Seth Magaziner moves to second congressional district
Seven months after launching his campaign for Congress, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner has moved to the Second Congressional District he hopes to represent, his campaign said Tuesday.
Magaziner moved from the East Side of Providence to Cranston's Edgewood neighborhood, campaign spokeswoman Patricia Socarras said.
Magaziner will be renting a townhouse on Norwood Avenue on a block that dead-ends at Roger Williams Park. The move was first reported by the Boston Globe.
The deadline for Rhode Islanders to register to vote in the Sept. 13 primary is this coming Sunday and the move will allow Magaziner to register in the Second District so he can vote for himself.
Magaziner grew up in the East Bay, which is in the First District, and some of Magaziner's election opponents have attacked him for not being from the district he wants to represent.
Socarras said Magaziner plans to put his East Side home on the market to sell, but it has not been listed yet.
AUG. 6: McCarthy visits Fung in RI
Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, was in Rhode Island Saturday to meet and presumably raise money for second congressional district candidate Allan Fung.
"Great day with a great candidate. Let’s turn #RI02 red @AllanFungRI," McCarthy, of California, tweeted around 4 p.m. with a photo of himself and Fung, dressed in nearly matching white shirts, khaki pants and navy blue blazers, standing on a manicured lawn overlooking Narragansett Bay.
The Fung campaign has not responded to questions about McCarthy's visit or where the anticipated fundraising event was held.
The Democrats hoping to replace retiring Rep. Jim Langevin in Washington next year, however, blasted the alliance.
“MAGA Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy supports privatizing Social Security, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and passing a national abortion ban, " Patricia Socarras, spokeswoman for Seth Magaziner wrote in an email. "The fact McCarthy is campaigning for Allan Fung in RI confirms what we already knew— Fung and the extremists Republicans would be a disaster for Rhode Island seniors, Rhode Islander workers and Rhode Island women.”
Bryan McNamara, spokesman for Sarah Morgenthau, wrote that Fung is “rolling out the red carpet for Kevin McCarthy and his radical far-right agenda, proving once again he is out-of-touch with the voters of the Second District.”
James Singer, regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tweeted: "Can make a promise: Democrats will make sure voters see this photo again and again #ri02."
AUG. 1: Gorbea says she's still the frontrunner, according to her polster
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea's says a new poll she commissioned shows her leading the race for governor by five percentage points.
In a poll of likely Democratic primary conducted last week, 27% of respondents prefered Gorbea compared to 22% for Dan McKee, 14% for Helena Buonanno Foulkes, 7% for Matt Brown and 3% for Luis Daniel Muñoz, according to a polling memo from Gorbea pollster Celinda Lake. The Gorbea campaign did not release the full poll including what questions were asked.
According to the Lake polling memo, 53% of likely voters view Gorbea favorably, compared to 49% who view McKee favorably and 33% who view Foulkes favorably.
The last time Gorbea released select results of a poll was in April and showed her with 30% of the vote, compared to 24% for McKee, 10% for Brown and 7% for Foulkes.
In her polling memo Lake emphasized Gorbea's lead over Foulkes who, while still trailing, in most recent polls has been gaining ground.
"Despite Foulkes heavy spending on television advertising, she is a distant third," Lake wrote.
The polling memo shows a large chunk of the electorate -- 22% -- remains undecided on who they would support for governor.
JULY 25: AFL-CIO and state's largest teachers' union endorse McKee
Gov. Dan McKee on Monday continued to rack up support from organized labor with the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and National Education Association Rhode Island teachers' union endorsing him.
George Nee, president of Rhode Island AFL-CIO, said since McKee assumed the governorship in March, 2021, he has signed labor-friendly bills that raise the minimum wage, require greenhouse gas emission reductions, set minimum staffing levels at nursing homes and require state-backed construction projects to pay a prevailing wage.
"Gov. McKee has consistently demonstrated a commitment to making life better for working Rhode Islanders," Nee said in a news release. "We look forward to continuing to work with the McKee Administration on issues that affect not only the 80,000 men and women of the Rhode Island labor movement but all of the Ocean State’s working people.”
The NEARI endorsement was perhaps more of a surprise and comes despite McKee's long-standing support for charter schools, which has put him at odds with the union over the years. Last year McKee helped block a union-backed moratorium on new charter schools in Rhode Island.
On the other side of the coin, McKee pushed to have teachers vaccinated for COVID-19 before the general public at a point in the pandemic when doses were scarce.
Seeing organized labor line up behind the incumbent in a Democratic primary is not a surprise, especially in this election year where state governments across the country have had the opportunity to dole out billions of dollars in federal COVID aid.
“Governor McKee put his money where his mouth is by ensuring funding for public school construction and even finally paying off an old debt owed by the state to the pension system,” NEARI President Larry Purtill said in a news release. “There have been, and still are, areas where we disagree with the Governor and frankly, all his rivals. However, communication with the McKee Administration has steadily become more active and robust as he accrues time in the role of governor.”
The release also credited McKee with responding to "issues at the Community College of Rhode Island, by placing Purtill on the Council on Postsecondary Education.
The 12,000-member NEARI is the largest teachers' union in the state.
JULY 20: McKee wins UNAP endorsement
Gov. Dan McKee has won the endorsement of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals.
In making the announcement on Wednesday, UNAP - which describes itself as Rhode Island's largest health care workers' union with more than 5,500 members - thanked McKee for steering millions in federal Coronavirus relief dollars towards health care workers and hospitals.
“In less than a year and a half, Governor McKee has delivered big results for health care workers,” said Lynn Blais, President of the UNAP, in a statement released by the union.
“He kept us and our patients safe during the worst of COVID by mandating the vaccine for health care workers. He’s made workplace development in the health care field a top priority, with a focus on alleviating hospital staffing issues, which have plagued us for years.
And "he worked with General Assembly leaders to deliver real financial relief in the form of ARPA funding and increased Medicaid reimbursements for our hospitals, keeping them out of the hands of the for-profit vultures looking to make a profit at the expense of health care workers and patients.
The union also credited him for the "major investments'' in the new state budget for the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital, including "money for a new medical facility, upgrades to existing buildings and the development of a long-awaited electronic medical records system.”
McKee also presided over the award of recrutiment and mentoring bonuses -ranging from $500 to $10,000 - on top of the $3,000 bonsues given other state employees - for new nurses and certified nursing assistants at the Slater Hospital, the Rhode Island Veterans Home and the medical wing of the state prison.
In her statement, Blais said: McKee " has earned our endorsement through his actions to help not just nurses and health professionals, but the entire health care community in Rhode Island, and we look forward to supporting him in the Democratic Primary and beyond.”
JULY 17: Magaziner leads congressional fundraising
Seth Magaziner continues to raise more money than any other candidate seeking to replace the retiring Jim Langevin representing Rhode Island's Second Congressional District, according to the latest quarterly filings with the Federal Elections Commission.
Democrat Magaziner had $1.7 million in his campaign account at the end of June. So far this year he has raised $2.1 million and spent $400,000.
Magaziner's donors are a who's who of Rhode Island industry and political influencers. They include former Fleet bank chief Terrence Murray, former IGT chairman Donald Sweitzer, former congressman Patrick Kennedy, Cornish Associates founder Arnold "Buff" Chace, Rhode Island Convention Center Chairman Bernie Buonanno Jr. and state Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin.
He also collected donations from political action committees representing unions such as Unite Here, International Union of Operating, Engineers, United Food and Commercial Workers, Plumbers and Pipefitters and the Laborers International Union.
Republican Allan Fung had second largest campaign warchest at the end of the second quarter, with $762,000. Fung has raised $857,000 so far this year, loaned his campaign $50,000 and spent $145,000.
Fung's donors include Carlos Trujillo, a Federalist Society contributor who was U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States under President Donald Trump. Fung also received $5,000 from the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers PAC and $14,000 from members of the Tasca family that own auto dealerships.
Democrat Sarah Morgenthau had $621,000 in the bank. She has raised $692,000 so far this year, loaned her campaign $200,000 and spent $271,000.
She received $5,000 from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Off the Sidelines PAC and $1,000 from California Congressman Adam Schiff’s Frontline USA PAC.
Most of her support came from out of state with only around two dozen individual donors from Rhode Island.
Democrat David Segal had $325,000 in the bank. He has raised $404,000, loaned his campaign $65,000 and spent $144,000 so far this year.
Like Morgenthau. Segal also received most of his from out of state.
His Rhode Island donors included State Rep. John Lombardi and Providence City Council member Rachel Miller.
Democrat Joy Fox had $173,000 in the bank. She raised $281,000 and spent $108,000 so far this year.
Some of her notable Rhodedonors included former lieutenant governor Elizabeth Roberts, former state Department of Human Services Director Courtney Hawkins and former candidate for governor Myrth York.
No second quarter campaign finance report was posted on the FEC website for Democrat Omar Bah as of Sunday.
JULY 11: Morgenthau gets Booker endorsement
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker endorsed Sarah Morgenthau for Congress on Monday as the Democrats running for Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District seat continue to tout support from prominent Washington lawmakers.
Morgenthau, who quit a job in the Biden administration to run for Congress, worked on Booker's successful 2006 campaign for mayor of Newark.
"I have known Sarah for years. She had faith in me at a time few others did, and came to work for my mayoral campaign in Newark, which was no easy thing,” Booker said in a news release. “I am asking the voters of Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District to have the same faith in Sarah Morgenthau that she had in me. Sarah is hardworking, compassionate, and knows how to get things done in Washington."
Morgenthau's Booker endorsement comes after Treasurer Seth Magaziner two weeks ago announced the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, who holds the seat the candidates are trying to fill.
Magaziner also received an endorsement from Massachusetts 4rth District Congressman Jake Auchincloss last week.
Back in April, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed David Segal for Rhode Island's 2nd District and held an online fundraiser for him at the end of last month.
JULY 8: Construction unions hit the air for McKee
Unlike his Democratic primary rivals, Gov. Dan McKee hasn't done any campaign advertising so far this year and thanks to local building trades unions may not need to very soon.
The Rhode Island Building Trades Council on Friday launched television ads backing McKee Friday and thanking him for recent rounds of state spending programs.
"Since taking office, Gov. Dan McKee has delivered an historic investment in much-needed affordable housing. He's taken the lead on historic school construction projects," the ad said. "So while some candidates have talked a good game, Dan McKee has delivered historic results."
Having the unions run independent ads backing you shows the power of incumbency and the political advantages of being in control of a $13 billion state budget.
Michael Sabitoni, president of the Building Trades Council, said Friday that the unions' support for McKee was a result of what he has delivered for them since taking office last year.
"At the end of the day he gets an 'A' from us since he has been in office," Sabitoni said. "Everything he has done with Covid, everything he has done with the state employees."
"All the other people say they are going to do this, they are going to do that. He has already done it," he added. "There is only one person who has submitted a budget and had the General Assembly pass a budget."
Saboitoni said the current ad will run "two or three weeks" and that there would be another ad coming focusing on infrastructure.
According to a filing with the Board of Elections, the Building Trades Council spent $100,000 placing the ad with the television networks and cable.
Earlier this week Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea's campaign released a new ad describing her housing plan.
And she announced the endorsement of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328.
JUNE 24-26: House speaker, Senate president endorse McKee in crowded race for governor
Ahead of the state Democratic Party's endorsement convention on Sunday night, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio have gone public with their choice in the crowded race for governor: Dan McKee, the Democratic incumbent.
On Sunday morning, Ruggerio issued a statement, announcing his endorsement of McKee for Governor and Sabina Matos for Lieutenant Governor.
In his statement, Ruggerio said, McKee and Matos, his appointed successor as lieutenant governor, "have been effective partners with the Senate over the past year and a half, and they have helped to deliver results that will benefit the people and small businesses of our state now and into the future."
“Dan McKee was thrust into the Governor’s office during a difficult time, amid a pandemic, and he rose to meet the challenge," RUggerio said.
"We worked collaboratively to ensure Rhode Islanders struggling under the weight of inflation saw immediate, tangible relief by eliminating the car tax, providing child tax credits, expanding low-income property tax breaks, and much more.
"Governor McKee is attuned to the challenges facing small businesses in Rhode Island, and he has succeeded in addressing many of these challenges, taking action to mitigate the worker shortage, improve workforce training, and reduce taxes," he said.
“Lieutenant Governor Matos has provided indispensable leadership throughout her time in the lieutenant governor’s office," he added, citing several examples. Among them: "Her work on housing, which has been a primary focus, has helped our state make historic progress."
On Friday, on the day after the close of the six-month legislative session – and round after round of negotiations with McKee's team, Shekarchi publicly endorsed McKee for election to the job to which he ascended in March 2021 after then-Gov. Gina Raimondo left for a Biden Cabinet post.
“I appreciate his leadership and ability to collaborate with the legislature on such key issues as the landmark Act on Climate bill to protect our precious environment, as well as making key investments in education, health care and assisting our small businesses," Shekarchi said.
"We have an excellent working relationship which resulted in a great budget for all Rhode Islanders this year," added Shekarchi, citing the elimination of the car tax a year ahead of schedule, expanded tax credits for seniors and disabled people, and a tax credit for working families with children.
“The Governor and I [also] share the mutual goal of increasing affordable housing opportunities for all Rhode Islanders, which is evident by the $250 million in housing investments contained in the budget, and we worked together on a comprehensive package of new housing bills."
Shekarchi will not have a direct vote on the endorsements the Democratic State Committee will hand out on Sunday night. But the speaker traditionally has had significant sway as the chosen leader of the Democrat-dominated House of representatives.
The explanation lies in the math: The committee's voting members include a state committeeman and a state committeewoman from each of the 75 House Districts, which equates to 150 of the 250 voting members.
McKee is facing four Democratic challengers: Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes and health-care advocate Luis Daniel Muñoz.
Winning the endorsement will require more than 50% of those voting.
On Saturday, Shekarchi also endorsed current state Treasurer Seth Magaziner for R.I.'s 2nd Congressional District seat.
"I am strongly supporting Seth Magaziner to fight against the radical views in Washington that are clearly out of step with Rhode Islanders," Shekarchi said.
"Having worked well with Seth as our General Treasurer for the past eight years, I can attest to his intelligence, character and strength that will serve us so well in Congress. We need Seth to join with Senator [Jack] Reed, Senator [Sheldon] Whitehouse and Congressman [David] Cicilline to carry forth the Democratic values that are so critical to our future as a state and a nation."
The Speaker has not [yet] weighed in on the primary race between Democrats Stefan Pryor and James Diossa to succeed Magaziner as treasurer.
But Pryor, who was until this past Tuesday the state's commerce secretary, won an endorsement from the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council, a coalition of 16 local trade unions .
“I have seen first hand Stefan Pryor’s work creating economic development. He created thousands of local union construction jobs, and his record is second to none. He is running a serious campaign on issues impacting all of Rhode Island and his record demonstrates that he is the type of leader we need as General Treasurer,” said Building Trades President Michael F. Sabitoni.
JUNE 20: Senate Judiciary Chair Coyne not seeking reelection
Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Cynthia Coyne is not seeking reelection to the Senate District 32 seat — representing all of Barrington and portions of Bristol and East Providence — that she first won in 2014..
With the start of the candidate declaration period now only days away, Democrat Coyne — one of the highest ranked women in the R.I. Senate — issued this statement:
“I have decided that the time is right to retire from the Senate, but I am not retiring from public service."
"In the immediate future, I look forward to spending more quality time with family and friends. I don’t know what my future may hold after that, but I know that I will always be engaged and eager to serve the community in some capacity."
Within hours of Coyne's announcement, Barrington Democratic Town Committee Chair Pam Lauria announced her candidacy for Coyne's seat.
She is a primary care nurse practitioner at Coastal Medical, now serving as a Trustee on Coastal’s Board. She is a volunteer and advocate with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and a member of Barrington’s Housing Board of Trustees, "working to increase affordable housing in Barrington." She has led the Barrington Democratic Town Committee since 2017,
She listed, as her priorities: "Affordable/equitable/accessible healthcare, commonsense laws to reduce gun violence, affordable housing, supporting children educationally and emotionally, and making RI affordable for all."
Coyne is a former state trooper who retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2006, and a graduate of the FBI National Academy.,
In her first term, "she worked to enact legislation to protect domestic violence victims by removing firearms from felony abusers... In more recent years, she championed new laws prohibiting untraceable ghost guns and 3-D printed guns."
She was also the lead Senate sponsor of legislation to limit firearm magazine capacity to 10 rounds of ammunition that won General Assembly approval last week after an initial tie vote in her committee that would have doomed it, has Senate leaders not vailed themselves of a rule allowing "immediate consideration:" of the House-passed version.
The legislation is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee this week.
On Monday, Coyne also pointed with pride to her sponsorship of legislation requiring public reporting on all child deaths or near fatalities, background checks for people working or volunteering with children and reforms to the state’s human trafficking laws.
Other bills she sponsored — or co-sponsored — increased the age to purchase tobacco in Rhode Island to 21, and opened the door to compensation to individuals who were wrongfully convicted.
First elected to the Senate in 2014, she previously served as a member of the Barrington Town Council.
“The issues that come before the Judiciary Committee are some of the most emotional and divisive issues to be considered by the Senate," Coyne said Monday.
"I tried to find common ground and start from a place of respect to build consensus whenever we could. We were able to get a lot accomplished, and I am appreciative of everyone I have had the opportunity to work with over the years.”
JUNE 17: Candidates opt in, out of contest for Democratic Party endorsements
A noon deadline has now come and gone for candidates for top state and federal office to signal whether or not they want the state Democratic Party endorsement.
And, no surprise - most do - including Gov. Dan McKee and his challengers: Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes and .health care activist Luis Daniel Munoz.
Under new party rules, they not only had to declare their candidacies by noon Friday for the endorsements that will be voted on June 26, they had to name the individuals who will be nominating them and seconding their nominations.
For example, McKee is counting on North Providence Mayor Charlie Lombardi and Sen. Ana Quezada to put his name in the hat. Gorbea named Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera and party activist Ann Gooding.
Foulkes named Sen. Louis DiPalma and David Chenevert, the lohg-time executive director of the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association; Brown named Portsmouth Town Councilmember Linda Ujifusa and Aaron Pearson, and Munoz named Meg Cotter and Dwayne Keys.
If none of the candidates are able to muster more than 50% of the votes in three rounds of elimination voting, there will be no endorsement as has happened on occasion in the past, but would obviously not be a good look for a sitting governor.
Only two candidates in the crowded race for the 2nd District Congressioal seat that long-time Rep. Jim Langevin is vacating opted not to seek the endorsement: Joy Fox and Omar Bah.
The other Democrats seeking the seat all threw their names in, including state Treas. Seth Magaziner, former state Rep. David Segal, Rhode Island. political newcomer Sarah Morgenthau and Providence firefighter Cameron Moquin.
In the three-way race for lieutenant, incumbent Sabina Matos is seeking the nomination. So is state Sen. Cynthia Mendes of East Providence..
But the third Democrat in the lieutenant governor's race - state Rep. Deb Ruggiero - is not.
Ruggiero, D-Jamestown, explained her rationale in a letter to members of the state Democratic Committee that said, in part:.
"Like you, I'm a life-long Democrat. I believe in the values of our Party; equity, equality, and justice."
"As Democrats, we believe in small "d" democracy. We have faith in our citizens and believe the more people that participate the better the process. That is my message to the voters - if you believe in me and give me your vote, I will work tirelessly for you."
"For this reason, I have decided NOT to seek the endorsement of the Democratic Party in my race for Lt. Governor in hopes of not dividing our Party."
In her own letter to the party, Matos - who was chosen by Gov. Dan McKee as his replacement when he ascended from lieutenant governor to governor in March 2021, has made this case:
"In more than a decade as a city councilor in Providence and over the past year as Lieutenant Governor, I have had the opportunity to meet and work alongside many of you.
"I know the commitment required to keeping our Democratic values and priorities front and center," she wrote.
Both Democrats in the race for treasurer opted to seek the nomination: Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor and former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa.
There are 250 voting members of the State Democratic Committee.(An earlier version of the blog poist said 286 based on incorrect information initially provided by the party.)
The list inlcudes, but is not limitd to: the party chairs in every city and town, three appointees each by the House Speaker and the Senate president, the state's four-member Congressional delegation, the five general officers, the party's Democratic National Committeeman and woman, and the committeeman and women in each House district, according to party advisor Kate Coyne McCoy..
JUNE 15: Diossa says Pryor should resign over soccer stadium
Candidate for treasurer and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa on Wednesday called on Democratic rival and state Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor to resign from negotiating a Pawtucket soccer stadium deal.
Pryor announced his campaign for treasurer on May 24 with a plan to step down as commerce secretary in "two weeks" and hit the campaign trail.
But negotiations on a bailout plan for the "Tidewater Landing" soccer stadium project have gotten messy. The Commerce Corporation Board of Directors on Tuesday declined to vote on a new agreement Pryor struck with developer Fortuitous Partners.
The board's concern was that the new proposal would strip public funding from the housing, infrastructure and non-stadium elements of the project, raising the possibility the state will have to spend significantly more money down the road.
But Diossa, a supporter of the stadium, blames the board's concerns about the deal on Pryor keeping them "in the dark until such a late stage."
"Multiple members of the Board were visibly bothered by the lack of ready answers from Commerce staff to the Board’s basic questions," Diossa said in a news release. "Transparency is critical, and the intelligent, capable members of the Commerce Board deserve access to all the information and to have their questions answered so that they can do their due diligence."
Diossa cited comments by board member Donna Sams in particular that she was "frustrated" at not getting sufficient answers from Pryor.
On Wednesday evening, Sams took issue with Diossa attacking Pryor in her name, saying in an email that she found his answers "satisfactory and convincing" and that she "would never rush Stefan's departure."
Nevertheless, Diossa went on in the Wednesday news release, accusing Pryor of using the stadium for "political gain," although it was not entirely clear how Pryor is benefitting from a deal now in serious risk of collapse.
"A now declared candidate for General Treasurer, Mr. Pryor pledged to leave office within two weeks," Diossa wrote. "That time having passed, Mr. Pryor has recklessly clung to power in an attempt to influence the outcome of these negotiations for future political gain."
Diossa's partner state Sen. Sandra Cano is Pawtucket's commerce director and is part of Mayor Donald Grebien's team pushing for more state help to rescue the stadium.
Grebien has endorsed Diossa for state treasurer.
Pryor could not immediately be reached for comment on Diossa's remarks.
JUNE 8: New mayoral endorsements for Cuervo and LaFortune
Former Boston Mayor Kim Janey has endorsed Providence mayoral candidate and councilwoman Nirva LaFortune.
"I know that Councilwoman LaFortune is ready to meet the challenges facing Providence. Nirva has the experience – both professional and lived experience – to hit the ground running on Day One and begin delivering results for the people of Providence," Janey said in a statement.
Janey served as Boston's acting mayor in 2021 for eight months, becoming the city's first woman and first Black mayor after former Mayor Marty Walsh joined President Joe Biden's cabinet as secretary of labor.
Another Providence mayoral hopeful, Gonzalo Cuervo, also added an new endorsement to his list – City Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris, who described Cuervo as capable of leading "the fight for social and economic justice."
"Gonzalo has been a strong advocate and ally for working families in Providence for decades; as a community leader, small business owner, and within city and state government," Harris said. "He has the experience, vision, and strong community ties to create greater economic opportunities for our youth, families, and neighborhoods."
JUNE 7: Rep. Cassar joins ranks of departing state lawmakers
As the candidate declaration period approaches, a fourth member of the House of Representatives has announced that she is not seeking reelection: Barrington Democrat Liana Cassar, whose district includes a slice of Riverside in East Providence.
A two-term legislator, she waged a short-lived campaign to become House speaker in the fall of 2020, when then-Speaker Nicholas Mattiello was on the ropes. She has led this year's legislative campaign to repeal the ban on state-paid insurance coverage for state workers and Medicaid recipients seeking abortions.
In an email to colleagues, Cassar wrote: “After careful deliberation, I have decided not to seek re-election. ... The demanding legislative schedule does not leave me able to fully honor my commitments to the House, along with my commitments to my career and my family."
"When my current term is complete at the end of this year, I will miss the daily collaboration. ... [But] be assured that I will remain a strong voice advocating for my community as well as for justice and equity in Rhode Island.”
Three other House Democrats are leaving: Rep. Gregg Amore of East Providence, to run for secretary of state; Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, to run for lieutenant governor; and freshman Steven Lima of Woonsocket, who has endorsed former Rep. Jon Brien, a Democrat-turned-independent, to replace him.
Brien last served in the House in 2012. He had four years on the Woonsocket City Council more recently. Another former Woonsocket councilman, Alex Kithes, running under the Rhode Island Political Cooperative banner, has also announced for Lima's seat.
On the Senate side, there are three announced departures so far, including Senate Republican leader Dennis Algiere of Westerly. More are expected.
Two Democrats candidates so far have announced for the seat that Algiere has held for close to three decades: Victoria Gu and Michael Niemeyer.
Forced by redistricting into a potential fight to keep her Senate seat in a district straddling Warwick and Cranston, first-term Sen. Kendra Anderson also chose to bow out. She endorsed Harrison Tuttle, head of the Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Political Action Committee, as her replacement.
At least one other candidate, former state prosecutor Matt LaMountain, has announced for the seat.
Freshman Sen. Cynthia Mendes, D-East Providence, has opted to run for lieutenant governor. At least two Democrats have expressed an interest in running for the seat: Jeff Britto and Greg Greco.
Candidates have three days, June 27 to 29, to file their official paperwork to run for election to a state or local seat. The primary is Sept. 13 and the general election is Nov. 8. in the September 13 primary and the November 8 general election.
JUNE 3: Raimondo joins former colleague Smiley for campaign event
Former Gov. Gina Raimondo is set to join mayoral candidate Brett Smiley on Friday, her support marking the highest-level endorsement in the race so far.
Raimondo, who now serves as President Joe Biden's secretary of commerce, is scheduled to appear with Smiley at Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a local nonprofit that organizes farmers markets, among other activities.
Smiley, who served as a top aide to Raimondo during her time as governor, will discuss the her administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an event description.
"Together, with our colleagues in government, we opened Rhode Island schools during a global pandemic, established statewide testing facilities and built field hospitals," a campaign email stated, adding that the duo will "talk about both what we accomplished and how I will bring those lessons with me as Providence’s next mayor."
Raimondo's trip comes not long after Raimondo visited Brown University in March to give a lecture on international affairs.
MAY 31: Ex-mayoral candidate Michael Solomon endorses Brett Smiley
Michael Solomon, who dropped out of Providence's mayoral race earlier this month, endorsed candidate Brett Smiley on Tuesday. He is part of a lengthy list of endorsements the former top aide to Gov. Gina Raimondo has received, several of them from the City Council. That includes Council President John Igliozzi, Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan and Councilmen Nicholas Narducci, Michael Correia and Jim Taylor.
Candidate Gonzalo Cuervo has also amassed a list of endorsements from his former boss, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera, former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, Providence Councilwoman Rachel Miller and others. Former and current state lawmakers have also endorsed Smiley and Cuervo.
Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune has endorsements for from Reps. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Rebecca Kislak, and Dr. Joanna Brown, who teaches family medicine at Brown University.
MAY 25: Democratic committee chairs endorse challengers over incumbents
A majority of the chairs of 31 Democratic city and town committees have endorsed challengers over Gov. Dan McKee and his appointed lieutenant governor, Sabina Matos.
Voting on Tuesday night, the Association of City and Town Democratic Chairs endorsed term-limited Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea for governor, over McKee, and Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, over Matos, according to Pam Lauria, the chair of the Barrington Democratic Town Committee and vice president of the chairs' association.
The group also endorsed Stefan Pryor for state treasurer over former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, only hours after Pryor announced his candidacy, and Rep. Gregg Amore for secretary of state.
The votes represent a slice of the potential Democratic primary vote in September, but it is unclear how representative they are.
It has not been disclosed, for example, which cities and towns were represented in the vote, and which were not though Lauria, when asked, said she did not believe the chair of the Providence Democrats participated in the vote.
It is also unclear how many of the city and town committees have conducted their own votes, and the extent to which their votes matched those of their chairs.
For example, the Democrats on the Barrington committee endorsed Matos over Ruggiero, according to a list provided by Lauria. She said she was only aware of two that have voted so far, including her own.
According to one account: Gorbea captured 17 of the 31 chairs voting, McKee 12 while two votes went elsewhere.
Asked what he made of the endorsement by the association of chairs, McKee on Wednesday said: "I don't make much of it."
He said the communities that were "supporting us there...[are those] with populations that are very large," and "communities with the largest populations in the state of Rhode Island are very supportive of me."
MAY 16: Foulkes hits the air with first TV ad
The election-year air war is about to heat up with Democratic candidate for governor Helena Buonanno Foulkes -- sitting on the largest campaign bank balance of anyone in the race -- set to run her first television commercial.
"I'm Helena Foulkes. Let's get big things done for Rhode Island," she says at the end of the ad as the camera pans from downtown Providence to the State House.
Campaign watchers have been wondering when Foulkes would start advertising because of her sizable campaign war chest, but relatively low political profile, having never run for elected office before.
At the end of March, Foulkes reported $1.5 million in her campaign account.
She has hired veteran ad producer Tad Devine.
Republican Ashley Kalus, who is also new to politics, was the first gubernatorial candidate to hit the airwaves when she began advertising last month.
MAY 12: Gorbea wins first union endorsement, while Foulkes doubles down on abortion funding
While Helena Foulkes nudged Gov. Dan McKee on Thursday to take more aggressive action on abortion funding, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea - announced her first union endorsement.
Meanwhile, Republican Ashley Kalus - the only candidate in the governor's race with TV ads so far - aired a new commercial stating her goals, without a lot of specifics on how she would get there. Among her goals: "creating a world class education system."
On the endorsement front: "Nellie Gorbea has and will continue to be a friend of workers and our union," said Derek Dunne with the United Steelworkers Local 12431 out of District 4 in a statement made public by the Gorbea campaign.
The union mentioned Democrat Gorbea's focus on "creating good paying jobs through significant investment in sustainable housing and growing the blue economy."
With earlier endorsements from EMILY's List and the Latino Victory Fund, Gorbea has a ways to catch up with McKee.
On March 10, the McKee campaign announced endorsements from a coalition of construction unions and the powerful Laborers' International Union.
That included an endorsement from the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council representing 17 unions and the Rhode Island Laborers’ District Council.
On abortion, there is no major policy difference between Foulkes, a former CVS executive, and McKee.
But Foulkes on Thursday called on McKee to "immediately submit a revised budget to the General Assembly that eliminates bans on abortion coverage" for state workers and Medicaid recipients. .
"Abortion is healthcare and must be accessible for all, regardless of how much money you make or how you get health insurance," said Foulkes, accusing McKee of failing - in his then role as lieutenant governor - "to lead in support'' of the 2019 law enshrining abortion rights in state law.
The McKee campaign declined comment. But soon after the potential repeal by the U.S. Supreme Court of the landmark Roe V. Wade abortion rights decision went public, McKee announced his "full support" for a pending bill to remove the restrictions on state-paid insurance coverage for abortions.
"He urges the General Assembly to pass this bill and send it to his desk for signature," a spokeswoman said.
MAY 9: The race heats up between Gorbea and Foulkes with exchange of digs
Without once mentioning the name of former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea tried Monday to link her fellow contender for governor to the potentially imminent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark abortion-rights decision Roe v. Wade.
Gorbea fired off a fundraising email centered on Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's role in shaping the current makeup of the court.
In an earlier tweet, she said: "Reminder that Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat which helped make [this] horrifying news possible. Which is just one in a very long list of reasons why donating to Mitch McConnell is never okay and inexcusable for someone who wants to be governor of RI."
Elaborating in a fundraising email that went out Monday, the Gorbea campaign said: "McConnell has always been anti-choice and has spent decades reshaping our courts to ban abortion.
"That’s why it’s so shocking that Nellie’s wealthiest opponent personally contributed to his re-election campaign. ... This isn’t behavior we should accept from our next Democratic Governor of Rhode Island — and that’s why we need your support to win this race."
Foulkes has acknowledged and publicly stated her regret for donating $500 to McConnell in 2014, about six months before Republicans took control of the Senate in midterm elections and McConnell became majority leader. She was head of CVS Health's pharmacy empire at the time.
The response from Foulkes spokeswoman Audrey Lucas to Gorbea: "It is extremely disappointing that at a moment when reproductive rights are literally being taken away from women across the country, Secretary Gorbea would choose to attack a strongly pro-choice candidate.
"Sadly, this is typical for career politicians who spend their time launching attacks on their opponents rather than getting things done for Rhode Islanders.
"It’s also an interesting line of criticism coming from the Secretary, who started her career working for a Republican governor, refused to endorse Rhode Island’s first woman governor in her re-election, and knocked doors to help elect the pro-life Speaker of the House who prevented Rhode Island from codifying Roe v. Wade into state law for years."
The response alluded to an online photo of Gorbea knocking on doors on the campaign trail with then-House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.
In response to earlier questions about the McConnell contribution, Foulkes said:
"Over the years I've made campaign contributions – mostly to Democrats, but to some Republicans, too – because, like most Rhode Islanders, I wanted a government where people from both parties could work together and get things done.
"One of the last Republicans I contributed to many years ago was Mitch McConnell and it's something I deeply regret and would never do again," she continued. "It was before he colluded with Donald Trump to destroy the Supreme Court and more. I sincerely apologize."
APRIL 29: Gorbea says she leads the RI governor's race, according her pollster
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says a poll conducted by her campaign shows she is the frontrunner in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Lake Research Partners, Gorbea's polling firm, released a polling memo Friday saying Gorbea had the support of 30% of the voters surveyed in a poll conducted earlier this month, compared to 24% for Gov. Dan McKee, 10% for former Secretary of State Matt Brown, 7% for former CVS executive Helena Buonanno Foulkes and 1% for Luis-Daniel Muñoz.
Twenty-six percent of voters polled were undecided, the memo said. The full poll was not
The poll was conducted April 11 to 14 on both cell phones and landlines of 600 likely Democratic primary voters, the Lake polling memo said.
Lake Research Partners is the polling firm of longtime Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.
When Lake last polled the field, McKee led the field with 26% of the vote, the memo said.
Gorbea's poll said 55% of respondents had a favorable opinion of Gorbea compared with 48% for McKee, according to the memo.
APRIL 28: McKee's approval rate drops to 42% in new poll
Gov. Dan McKee's popularity has fallen dramatically since last year, according to a new online poll released Thursday that said 42% of Rhode Island voters approve of the job he is doing and 40% disapprove.
Last fall, 60% of surveyed voters approved of the job McKee was doing and only 25% disapproved, according to Morning Consult. The 48th
The 18 percentage point drop in McKee's approval rating was the largest of any governor, Morning Consult said. And only two governors, Kate Brown of Oregon and David Ige of Hawaii, posted lower approval ratings.
Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker retained the highest approval rating in the nation -- 74% -- in the survey, which was conducted from Jan. 1 to March 31 and included "at least 601 registered voters in each state." Baker's disapproval rating was 21%.
Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont posted the 18th highest approval rating at 57%, with 35% disapproving of the job he is doing.
APRIL 21: Segal lands Elizabeth Warren endorsement
A day after he officially launched his campaign for Congress, former State Rep. Segal picked up the endorsement of Massachusetts U.S. Sen. recent presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
"I’ve worked with @DavidSegalRI on plans to level the economic playing field, support a responsible foreign policy, and build a government that Americans can trust to work for them," Warren tweeted Thursday morning. "I’m happy to endorse him for Congress in #RI02 because he’s ready to make change happen."
I’ve worked with @DavidSegalRI on plans to level the economic playing field, support a responsible foreign policy, and build a government that Americans can trust to work for them. I’m happy to endorse him for Congress in #RI02 because he’s ready to make change happen. pic.twitter.com/Ew0aDTeSPD
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 21, 2022
Segal, who co-founded the progressive advocacy group Demand Progress after leaving the General Assembly in 2011, is running on the left of what is now a five-person Democratic primary field to replace retiring Rep. Jim Langevin in the second congressional district.
APRIL 20: GOP candidate for RI governor, Ashley Kalus airing first TV ads of campaign season
PROVIDENCE — Ashley Kalus, the Republican candidate for governor, has purchased roughly $109,000 of airtime in Rhode Island for the first TV ads of the '22 campaign season and separately, gone on the attack against R.I.'s political establishment.
The ad buy - scheduled to run Wednesday through April 26 - was first reported by the local CBS affiliate, WPRI, and confirmed by Kalus' Ohio-based media buying firm, Medium Buying. It is scheduled to run on "broadcast, cable, radio and regional sports" networks, according to the firm.
The 60-second TV ad echoes the video clip Kalus, a relative newcomer to Rhode Island, released to introduce herself to her new home state when she announced for governor, including her declaration that the days of "I know a guy" are over.
She sent a link to the ad to members of the Republican State Central Committee on Tuesday night, along with an email that said, in part: "Big News!"
"I wanted you to be the first to know that we are taking our campaign across all media fronts tomorrow. Since we launched last month, we have campaigned through almost every city and town across Rhode Island.
"We are going to campaign just as hard in Providence and Pawtucket as we are in Warwick and Cranston. For too long, Democrats have taken the Black and Hispanic vote for granted and I plan on fighting for everyone’s vote."
From there she launched into an attack on the "career politicians and insiders [who] have taken advantage of the taxpayers."
"Rhode Islanders foot the bill so insiders can line their own pockets,'' she wrote. "Just the latest examples are the failed merger of Lifespan and Care New England, handing out $3,000 bonuses to politically appointed judges, and now the proposed corporate welfare for the Superman Building."
"I'm going to the Statehouse to shake things up!" she said, in her email, not the ad.
For the record, the $3,000 bonuses for judges were awarded by the Chief Justice of the R.I. Supreme Court, not Gov. Dan McKee, the Democrat she hopes to replace. But the award came to light after McKee awarded like-sized "retention bonuses to unionized employees across state government.
APRIL 18: Gorbea releases 10 years of tax filings, asks competitors in race for governor to do same
PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island's term-limited Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea on Monday made 10 years of her tax filings public, and called on her opponents in the race for governor to do the same.
There has been no direct response to that late-day challenge from incumbent Gov. Dan McKee, who was headed out-of-state to a Democratic governor's conference on Monday, or the other candidates in the race.
With two exceptions, all of Gorbea's competitors have released their own tax returns annually, to one degree or another, but none going back 10 years.
The two exceptions: dark horse Democratic candidate Luis-Daniel Munoz, who declined to do so in the past, and Republican candidate Ashley Kalus who has not yet responded to Journal inquiries on Monday on her willingness to make her tax filings public.
As a starting point, Gorbea made public the top pages of her filings as she has done before during her years in state office - but did so for a ten-year period that extends back to a point before she held elected office.
Most recently, she and her husband, Steven L. DHondt paid $60,127 in federal taxes and $16,818 in state taxes to Rhode Island on their adjusted gross income of $325,666.
Her campaign said copies of her full return would be made available to the media upon request.
Explaining her own decision to release 10 years of tax filings, Gorbea said: "Rhode Islanders deserve nothing less than full transparency from their elected officials—especially from anyone who is seeking to lead the state.
"This shouldn’t be complicated,” she said.
“As gubernatorial candidates, we are asking Rhode Islanders for their trust to run our state. They deserve to know how much we are paid, any potential conflicts of interest, and then how much we paid in state and federal taxes.
"Too many voters are cynical and disillusioned," she said. "It’s not healthy for our politics locally or our democracy as a whole. I’m committed to transparency and accountability."
APRIL 15: Lt. Gov. Matos touts endorsements- 'an American success story'
PROVIDENCE — A day after her official campaign launch, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos is touting a swath of endorsements from the labor and political world, including Armand Sabitoni, the general-secretary- treasurer of the Laborers International Union of North America.
One of her two Democratic primary opponents - Rep. Deborah Ruggiero - has captured the endorsement of many of her House colleagues, including the speaker who has an outsized voice over the state Democratic Party endorsement...
But Matos - who highlights her status as "the first Black woman to hold statewide office in Rhode Island" - on Friday announced endorsements from the governor and nine state lawmakers - including Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Grace Diaz, the vice-chair of the state Democratic Party,
Others on the list of people endorsing Matos - who was the president of the Providence City Council until Gov. Dan McKee appointed her lieutenant governor a year ago - include the mayors of East Providence, Pawtucket, North Providence and Newport and former Providence Mayor Angel Tavares.
"Like many of our members, Sabina Matos is an American success story," said Michael Sabitoni, chairman of the Rhode Island Council of Building Trades.
Recalling her history as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic 28 years ago who became the president of the Providence City Council before her appointment to lieutenant governor, Sabitoni said:
“While on the council, she championed the passage of numerous ordinances promoting economic development for Providence residents and their families... She shattered a glass ceiling long overdue for smashing, and uses her office every day to advocate for all Rhode Islanders." (Michael and Armand Sabitoni are cousins.)
Other union leaders on the list are affiliated with SEIU Local 580 and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
Matos also picked up an endorsement from former state Democratic Party chairman Bill Lynch.
Matos is seeking election for the first time to the job to which she was appointed by McKee after he ascended from lieutenant governor on March 2, 2021 on the heels of Gina Raimondo's resignation to take a Biden cabinet post.
She is competing with Ruggiero and state Sen. Cynthia Mendes for the Democratic nomination.
Candidate Michael Neary issued a statement Thursday from Columbus, Ohio, confirming his intent to stay in the race for Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District seat despite his recent arrest on charges of drug possession and "menacing" an Ohio couple on an interstate.
"I am currently seeking medical and mental health treatment and have been referred to a neurologist for a possible non-Epileptic seizure-related condition,'' Neary said in his statement, affirming his plans to remain in the Congressional race "all the way to the September primary."
"I know there are many questions surrounding recent news reports, and a full statement will be forthcoming in the coming days," he said. .
The Ohio couple told authorities they were "scared for their life" after a bizarre run-in with Neary on the road the morning of March 23, according to an arrest report released by the Miami County Sheriff's Office.
Neary pleaded not guilty to the charges, was released on $2,500 bond and ordered to appear in court for a pretrial conference on April 21, according to court records.
Asked Thursday to clarify his situation, Neary said: "I changed my voter registration some time ago and have been staying with my parents in Coventry while trying to find a permanent living situation in town."
But, "I am currently in Columbus where ... I am actively seeking medical treatment. ... That is where I am right now and what I am currently doing before I can return home to Rhode Island permanently."
The Ohio couple described being followed by a vehicle that sped up, slowed down and exited the highway when they did, more than once.
When the authorities caught up with him, "Mr. Neary appeared to be nervous, his eyes were bloodshot and he was talking fast," the report said.
Neary initially told deputies that he had known the driver of the car that he was following, but then changed his story and said that he was "drawn to the Ohio registration on that vehicle," according to the police report.
Neary reportedly told police that he "recently has been stressed and went out for a drive to clear his head," that he had been staying with his parents in Rhode Island and had a big argument with them before he left.
Neary allowed police to search his 2017 Hyundai Elantra, which is registered to a Columbus address. According to the report, police found a half-empty bottle of whisky, a clear plastic container containing baggies of marijuana, a ceramic pipe and a grinder.
Before his arrest, Neary told The Providence Journal that he was a sixth-generation Rhode Islander who had grown up in Coventry but had recently been living in Ohio.
In his statement on Thursday, Neary said this is the first time he has ever been arrested,, "so I am also focused on addressing the Misdemeanor charges here in Ohio." In the interim, he said: "steps have been taken to retain legal counsel."
"While these have been a difficult few weeks for our family as we deal with various private matters together, the stories we have heard from Rhode Islanders about the problems they are facing in their everyday lives over the last several months is my only motivation to continue this campaign."
Foulkes reports raising $1.3 million in first quarter
Former CVS executive Helena Buonanno Foulkes' campaign said Thursday she raised $1.3 million in the first three months of the year, the largest quarterly fundraising total claimed by any of the candidates for governor so far.
Foulkes' first-quarter fundraising includes $900,000 in donations and a $400,000 personal loan to her campaign, spokeswoman Audrey Lucas said. She said "nearly half" of the contributions came from new donors.
The $1.3-million tally should give Foulkes the financial edge in the battle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
In the fourth quarter of last year, she raised $973,000 from donors and put $100,000 of her own money into the race, which at the time was the largest fundraising quarter of the race.
Gov. Dan McKee's campaign said he raised over $400,000 in the first quarter of this year.
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and former secretary of state Matt Brown have not shared any details of their first-quarter fundraising yet.
On the Republican side, Ashley Kalus two weeks ago announced that she had loaned her campaign $500,000 of her own money.
Rhode Island candidates have until the end of the month to file their official campaign finance reports.
Those reports will include how much each of the candidates have spent as well as a breakdown of their donors.
“Every day our campaign gets stronger as Helena meets Rhode Islanders all across the state and shares her positive vision to transform our public schools, make it more affordable to live in Rhode Island and create great jobs for all,” Lucas said in a news release. “We are so grateful for the support we’ve received, which will allow us to get our message out to voters and position us to win this race.”
Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos assembles election campaign team
Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos will make it official on Thursday that she is running for election to the job to which she was appointed by Gov. Dan McKee last spring after his own blink-of-the eye ascension to governor..
In a news release that went out Friday afternoon, Matos – the first Afro-Latina to hold statewide office in Rhode Island – also named the key members of her campaign team. They include many familiar names.
"When I came to Rhode Island as a 20-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic, I never thought I would run for public office, much less serve as Lieutenant Governor," she said, according to the news release.
"But in America, anything is possible. Now I’m working to fix systemic injustices and make sure everyone has the same opportunities I did. I understand the challenges facing Rhode Islanders because they’re mine as well. I’m running for Lieutenant Governor because Rhode Islanders deserve a champion that puts them first.”
Her campaign hires include:
*Kristina Contreras Fox as campaign manager. Contreras Fox most recently led policy and advocacy efforts for the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, and before that was field director for Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza's campaign. .
*Mike Raia of Half Street Strategic Consulting, as senior advisor for communications. Raia did a turn as Gov. Gina Raimondo's communications director and also served as a senior advisor to Raimondo’s 2018 reelection campaign.
*Pete Brodnitz of Expedition Strategies as the campaign’s research consultant. Brodnitz did polling for Raimondo, consulted on both of her winning campaigns for governor and led the research operation for Attorney General Peter Neronha’s campaign in 2018.
*Tierney Hunt and Matt Burgess of The New Media Firm as the leads on Matos's television, digital and radio advertising efforts. Hunt and Burgess have worked on a number of notable Democratic and progressive campaigns, including efforts for EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood Votes.
Democrat Matos, the former president of the Providence City Council, was appointed by McKee to replace himself as lieutenant governor when Raimondo left for a Biden Cabinet post, and he was automatically elevated to governor.
Matos faces two Democratic challengers so far, state Rep. Deb Ruggiero and state Sen. Cynthia Mendes.
House speaker endorses Rep. Ruggiero's campaign for lieutenant governor
If Gov. Dan McKee was hoping state Democratic Party leaders would endorse his hand-picked lieutenant governor, the chances dimmed Wednesday when House Speaker Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi endorsed a House colleague instead.
On Wednesday, Rep. Deb Ruggiero's campaign announced that she had picked up the endorsements of Shekarchi and 35 other Democratic office-holders and activists, including the House Majority Leader Christopher Blazejewski and Majority Whip Katherine Kazarian, and 10 other House colleagues.
Whoever is House speaker traditionally has an outsized voice in who gets the state Democratic Committee endorsement, because the majority of the members are appointed by House District Committees, whose members are themselves appointed by state representatives who, in turn, have elected the speaker as their leader.
In this case, Shekarchi endorsed Ruggiero over the incumbent, Sabina Matos, who was appointed by McKee to take his place after then-Gov. Gina Raimondo resigned for a post in the Biden Cabinet last year. State Sen. Cynthia Mendes is also running for the Democratic nomination.
In an interview Wednesday morning, Ruggiero told The Journal she does not intend to seek the state Democratic Party's endorsement. "I am going to stay in my lane, run my race, stay focused and positive ... and do the work I need to do.
"I don't want this to be divisive," she said.
One potential outcome – seen before – is that the state party opts for neutrality in a race that pits that governor's choice against the speaker's.
In a statement accompanying Wednesday's announcement, Shekarchi said he was "proudly" endorsing Ruggiero, with whom he has worked since he was first elected 10 years ago.
"She is an extremely dedicated, hard-working and honest public servant. As a long-time member of the House Finance Committee, Deb has a great understanding of state government and she is highly qualified to hit the ground running from Day One," he said.
Ruggiero has represented House District 74, encompassing Jamestown and Middletown, for the past 14 years and currently chairs the House Committee on Innovation, Internet, and Technology and has a seat on the House Finance Committee.
In other campaign news, Democrat McKee picked up the endorsement of two other private-sector unions: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 99 and 2323, which together say they represent about 2,850 current and retired electrical and telecom workers.
McKee "has been a strong ally for our members and all people who work with their hands for a living. Coming into office during one of the most challenging moments in our state’s history, [he] rolled up his sleeves and focused on keeping our economy open and getting people back to work," said Joe Walsh Jr., IBEW Local 99 business manager.
“Governor McKee has been put to the test in his first year in office – leading our state through a difficult public health and economic crisis – and has earned re-election," echoed Christopher Buffery, IBEW Local 2323 business manager.
The two locals join the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, the Laborers’ District Council, and seven mayors and town administrators in endorsing McKee's election bid.
Congressional candidates tout big Q1 fundraising totals
Sarah Morgenthau's and Allan Fung's congressional campaigns said Monday they've raised more than $500,000 in the first three months of the year, while Seth Magaziner said he's pulled in $1.4 million over that period.
On Tuesday Democrat Joy Fox, a former staffer to U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin and Gina Raimondo, said she had raised "more than $175,000 from 406 contributions since launching in February."
Former state Rep. David Segal, who is officially still exploring getting in the second district Democratic primary, said he raised $252,000 since late February.
And on Wednesday, Republican state Sen. Jessica de la Cruz said she raised $85,000 since launching her campaign last month.
In a news release, she said 96% of her 250 donors were from Rhode Island.
Candidates are not required to file their official first-quarter fundraising reports, which include the source of donations and any personal loans, until later in the month.
"In just five weeks time, we have accumulated an excess of $500,000 from a diverse group of people who acknowledge that the strongest candidate to win the election in November is Sarah," Morgenthau's campaign said in a news release. "Sarah has had a robust career across many sectors that has granted her a diverse knowledge base and skillset, making her the best candidate to take on the challenges we currently face."
Morgenthau left a job at the U.S. Commerce Department in Washington after Langevin announced in January he was not running for reelection.
Democrat Magaziner, the state's general treasurer, was running for governor and switched to the Second Congressional District race this winter after Langevin said he is stepping aside.
The $1.4-million his campaign said he raised in the first quarter would likely give him a decent financial advantage in the race.
“People in Rhode Island know Seth will fight for working families, and they are deeply concerned about losing this seat to extremist Republicans who will privatize social security and Medicare and roll back progress on women’s rights, voting rights and worker’s rights,” said Magaziner campaign manager Katie Nee Zambrano said in the release. “We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of Rhode Islanders who contributed to our campaign.”
Republican Fung's campaign said the former Cranston mayor raised "over $500,000+ last quarter."
"Our team is now pivoting towards a formal kickoff in mid-April and we will keep you informed on those details as that nears.
Fox on Tuesday said more than 60% of the $175,000 she raised came from Rhode Islanders and 48% of the donations were of $100 or less.
“What this campaign has accomplished in these first few weeks is thanks to family and friends, neighbors, high school classmates, and so many former colleagues standing with me and believing as I do that the people of this District deserve a Congresswoman who really understands how to make a difference for them,” Fox said in a news release Tuesday.
Over in the Providence mayoral race, Nirva LaFortune's campaign on Monday said she raised more than $50,000 in the first quarter.
Foulkes backs $500 tax cuts
Democratic candidate for governor Helena Buonanno Foulkes wants to give all Rhode Islanders making $100,000 or less $500.
The former CVS pharmacy executive Tuesday said incumbent Gov. Dan McKee should use $200 million of the state's $600-million projected budget surplus this year on tax credits for residents. She estimates 400,000 Rhode Island residents make less than $100,000 per year and would be eligible.
“Our state is seeing an unprecedented surplus, but Rhode Islanders’ budgets are tighter than ever,” Foulkes said in a campaign news release. “Every day I talk to hardworking Rhode Islanders who feel like they’re being priced out of our state, and inflation has only made their lives more difficult. As governor, I will work to lower the cost of living in our state, but we also need to give families relief – now.”
McKee's budget proposal would use the surplus to pay for infrastructure projects, including improvements to the state's Eleanor Slater Hospital system, matching funds for transportation projects and state computer system upgrades.
Any tax cut plan would require General Assembly approval.
National GOP digs at Magaziner
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) on Tuesday jumped into Rhode Island's Congressional sweepstakes on Tuesday, with a broadside at state Treas. Seth Magaziner.
Magaziner is one of seven Democratic candidates so far in the race for Rhode Island's 2nd District Congressional seat. And the one who snagged an early endorsement from the R.I. AFL-CIO.
Linking to Magaziner's appearance this past weekend on WJAR's "Ten News Conference,'' the NRCC echoed Magaziner's statement: “Everyone needs to be accountable for their record.”
"Let’s dive in then, shall we?" the NRCC said.
"In just this interview alone, Magaziner: Opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline and fracking on federal lands and ANWR as gas prices in Rhode Island skyrocket... Signaled support for a radical energy and environmental agenda... Pledged to vote for 'far-left' Nancy Pelosi to lead House Democrats."
"The race for Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District has only just begun and already, Seth Magaziner is the perfect candidate to ensure the seat flips to Republican hands this November," said NRCC spokeswoman Samantha Bullock.
Magaziner spokeswoman Patricia Socarras turned the argument around, in her response to the NRCC:
"Seth is running for Congress to fight for working families and against extremist national Republicans whose agenda includes repealing the Affordable Care Act, privatizing social security, and rolling back progress on women’s rights, voting rights and workers’ rights."
"It's no surprise that Seth is the candidate the GOP is focusing on,'' she said.
Even though he does not live in the district, "he's won the district twice in his previous two [statewide] elections... He is a proven fundraiser... [and he has] broad support from labor organizations that support workers."
House GOP leader faces Democratic challenge
Block Island Republican Rep. Blake Fillippi, the House minority leader, is facing his first challenger since he won his seat in 2014.
On Friday, Tina Spears, executive director of the Community Provider Network of Rhode Island, announced her intent to run as a Democrat in House District 36, which spreads across Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown and Westerly.
A resident of Charlestown, Spears has "dedicated her professional career to advancing the rights of Rhode Islanders with disabilities," and hopes to bring that expertise – and personal experience – to the State House, according to a news release announcing her candidacy.
Elaborating, she said: her son, Taquonck, "suffered a birth injury and had significant disabilities as a result."
She said she and her husband "learned to navigate the difficult landscape needed to support a child with developmental disabilities," and that she became a skilled and successful advocate as a result.
Fillippi leads the 10-member Republican bloc in the House. He has run without primary or general election opposition since 2014 when as an independent he challenged and defeated Democratic incumbent Donna Walsh.
Asked to distinguish herself from Filippi, Spears on Friday told The Journal: "This is a coastal district. ... I support the Act on Climate, and our district supports policies that protect the environment. Rep. Filippi voted against this important environmental and jobs bill."
"My children go to public schools. I support strong public schools," she added. "Rep. Filippi is proposing a voucher system that has the potential to undermine public school funding. ... I support an increase in minimum wage, he voted against this, twice."
Ths was Filippi's response to Spears' challenge: "I have tremendous respect for Tina, and her work. We both love this community, and it should be great a race."
GOP's de la Cruz to kick off her Congressional campaign
Republican state Sen. Jessica de la Cruz will officially kickoff her campaign for Rhode Island's Second District Congressional seat Wednesday at 39 West Restaurant & Lounge in Cranston.
“Everyone I talk to agrees that Congress has enough millionaires and career politicians,” she said in media advisory about the event.
“It’s time for a working mom who understands what families are facing. Higher gas prices, inflation, shortages at the grocery store, and rising crime rates: these problems that normal people feel but the rich and powerful can insulate themselves from. That’s why the 2nd district needs real representation in Congress.”
The North Smithfield senator, who does not at this time live in the Second Congressional District, is one of three Republicans who have filed the necessary paperwork to begin fundraising for the campaign.
The others are former Cranston Mayor and two-time candidate for governor Allan Fung and former state Rep. Robert Lancia, who is running for the seat a second time. (Lancia garnered 41.5% of the vote in 2020 against incumbent U.S. Rep. James Langevin, who is not seeking reelection this year.)
On the Democratic side there are seven announced candidates so far. They include: Omar Bah, Edwin Pacheco, Seth Magaziner, Joy Fox, Cameron Moquin, Michael Neary, and the most recent entry, Sarah Morgenthau. Others, including former state Rep. David Segal, ho have indicated they may jump in.
McKee gets construction unions, Laborers' endorsement
A coalition of construction unions and the powerful Laborers' International union threw their support behind Gov. Dan McKee's reelection bid Thursday, his first significant endorsement from organized labor.
The Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council represents 17 unions with around 10,000 workers. The Rhode Island Laborers’ District Council represents around 12,000 workers.
”Gov. McKee has demonstrated the intellect, character and shared vision to revitalize and reinvigorate our state toward socio-economic recovery, sustainability and vitality for all,” Armand Sabitoni, LIUNA general secretary-treasurer and New England regional manager, said in a news release announcing the endorsement. “He will continue to roll up his sleeves and get the job done for Rhode Island.”
Both groups wield significant political clout at the State House and were key parts of former Gov. Gina Raimondo's electoral base.
McKee was elevated to governor from lieutenant governor when Raimondo resigned to become U.S. commerce secretary.
“We know he will keep our members working by continuing to invest in our schools, roads, bridges, green energy initiatives, and affordable housing,” Scott Duhamel, secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, said in the release.
Gorbea calls for 'pause' on R.I. gas tax
Secretary of State and candidate for governor Nellie Gorbea wants Rhode Island to "pause" collecting taxes on gasoline because of rising fuel prices caused by the invasion of Ukraine.
"Now is the time for leadership that stands up to hostile forces like Russia, while still ensuring economic security for Ocean State families," Gorbea said in a campaign news release. "The Governor should pause the gas tax to provide immediate relief to the many Rhode Islanders facing higher prices at the pump right now."
The Russian assault on Ukraine has sent gas prices soaring around the globe. On Monday AAA Northeast reported that the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Rhode Island had risen to a record $4.24.
Calls to cut or suspend gas taxes across the country first came from Republicans.
In Rhode Island, congressional candidate and state Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, R-North Smithfield, proposed a bill that would halt collections of the state's 34-cents-per-gallon gas tax for the rest of this year.
But with a hotly contested gubernatorial primary this year, Democrats are being drawn to the issue.
Democratic General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who is also running for Congress, on Tuesday called for a suspension of the federal gas tax.
In her news release, Gorbea didn't say how long the gas tax "pause" should be, under what conditions she would bring it back or how she would offset the lost revenue.
Last year Rhode Island collected around $140 million in gas tax, according to a Department of Revenue report.
The gas tax is used to pay for state transportation projects. A portion of each cent collected goes to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority.
Gov. Dan McKee's campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his thoughts about a gas tax suspension.
Democratic candidate for governor Luis Daniel Muñoz said this is an "opportune time" for a gas tax suspension and that he supports even "bolder tangible property tax reductions/exemptions and supplemental wage programs to support working families and micro-businesses."
Foulkes calls for $1 billion in additional school spending
Gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes believes that Rhode Island should funnel at least $1 billion more to the state's public schools to fix long-standing problems, including what she calls "COVID learning loss."
In a candidate forum a week ago, the former top CVS executive signaled her belief that Rhode Island needs to invest big in public school education.
On Tuesday, she identified the problem: "Our public schools were struggling before COVID, but the challenges of the last two years have pushed them into a full-blown crisis.
"Last year, only 33% of Rhode Island public school students were meeting grade-level expectations in reading. Our results in math are even more alarming – only 20% of Rhode Island students are meeting grade-level standards in math."
“You shouldn’t have to be lucky or wealthy to get a great education in Rhode Island, but for decades, we’ve failed to provide our public schools with the resources and support they need to be successful," she said.
With the big teacher union endorsements up for grabs, she said: "Our public school teachers are heroes. They showed up every day during this pandemic to give our students the best education possible.
"But we haven’t supported our teachers or our students the way they deserve. Let’s change that."
Rhode Island is expected to spend $1.7 billion in state and federal dollars on elementary and secondary education this year.
That includes nearly $1.4 billion in direct aid to local school districts, plus nearly $57 million for Central Falls.
Foulkes' plan: use nearly $500 million of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allotment "on proven strategies,'' such as "expanding summer learning opportunities, making sure every student in the state has access to before- and after-school learning, offering small-group tutoring for those who need the most support, and adding teaching assistants to every K-3 classroom."
If elected, she said, she would "invest an additional $300M in public education through the state budget" to fully fund universal prekindergarten and create a "new state program to provide public preschool" for 3-year-olds.
She said she would also propose changes to the state funding formula to "finally provide enough resources for special education and multilingual learning,'' dedicate state funding for dual language and community school models and provide additional financial support for teachers to get certified in multiple language learning.
She also endorsed current state Treasurer and Congressional candidate Seth Magaziner's push for $300 million in additional state borrowing for school construction so that "our kids can attend schools that are safe, warm, dry and equipped for 21st-century learning. "
Asked where Foulkes' children went to school, spokeswoman Audrey Lucas told The Journal: "They are all graduated now but attended the [private] Gordon School and Wheeler."
Asked why she chose to send her own children to private, rather than public schools in Rhode Island, Foulkes emailed this response:
"Like many parents, my husband and I sent our kids to the best schools we could. We were incredibly privileged to be able to afford private school tuition. But most parents in our state don't have that luxury – and they shouldn't have to.
"You should not have to be wealthy or lucky or live in a certain zip code to give your kids a great education," she repeated. "That's why I'm calling for an unprecedented $1-billion investment in our public schools to support critical interventions to make up COVID learning loss and support our kids in every single community in our state."
Foulkes faces four competitors for the Democratic nod to run for governor, including the incumbent, Dan McKee, and term-limited Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.
When asked in 2019, Gorbea, who lives in North Kingstown, explained through a spokesman why she chose to send her three daughters to the private Lincoln School in Providence.
Her then-spokesman Nick Domings said: "The Lincoln School offers them an all-girl environment rooted in Quaker values. The Secretary and her husband value the opportunities and challenges of the school's all-female education, and its location is near the Secretary's office in Providence."
Then-Lieutenant Governor McKee told The Journal that he and his wife, Susan, have a son and daughter, who both attended Cumberland public schools from kindergarten through grade 12.
On Tuesday, gubernatorial candidate and former Secretary of State Matt Brown told The Journal that daughter Ella went to Horace Mann Elementary School in Washington D.C, which is public, and then the private Moses Brown School for 1st grade through 3rd grade when the family moved back to Providence, and then the Lincoln School where she is now in 10th grade.
Their son Walker went to Moses Brown iitially, then the French American Scool of Rhode Iland, and then after a year of homeschooling, he went to the Community Preparatory School where he is now in 8th grade..
Magaziner wants to divest from Russia
How much of Rhode Island's $10.1-billion pension fund is invested in Russia?
Somewhere between $20 million and $30 million, or 0.3%, according to General Treasurer and congressional candidate Seth Magaziner, who wants to liquidate it to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.
"What [Russian President] Putin is doing in Ukraine is an affront to the values of Rhode Islanders," Magaziner said Monday. "We do not want to have any role in supporting what Putin is doing. We want to put whatever pressure we can to stop this illegal war."
Since the invasion late last week and subsequent rounds of international sanctions, the Treasury has been reviewing its portfolio and found two index funds with Russian exposure, Magaziner said.
One is an emerging market fund for stocks, managed by State Street, which includes publicly traded companies and possibly some with state ownership.
The other is an emerging markets bond fund managed by Wellington Management. These investments include Russian corporate bonds, and may also include government bonds, Magaziner said.
Rhode Island's pension investments are overseen by the State Investment Commission, which the treasurer chairs, and Magaziner is planning to hold an emergency meeting of the commission to approve the divestment later this week.
Getting out of up to $30 million in Russia investments may come with a cost, but Magaziner said it is too soon to know what it might be.
The index funds could decide to drop their Russian investments altogether. Or they might set up a custom index for Rhode Island, he said.
"I am hopeful that if we can be a thought leader and pull other larger states along, than it can have some impact collectively," Magaziner said when asked if the move was primarily symbolic. "Broadly speaking, financial markets work best in the context of democracy, peace and the rule of law.
The Rhode Island pension system has a rule against investments in Iran or Sudan that predates Magaziner's tenure as treasurer.
R.I. AFL-CIO endorses Magaziner for Congress
The leadership of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO has bestowed an early endorsement on state Treasurer Seth Magaziner in the crowded race for Rhode Island's Second Congressional District seat.
“Treasurer Magaziner is the type of leader Rhode Island needs in Congress,” said George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, in a statement Monday. (Nee's daughter Katie Nee manages Magaziner's campaign.)
Nee credited Magaziner's efforts, as chairman of the state’s school building task force, with helping to "launch a transformation of Rhode Island’s school infrastructure, ensuring that all students have safe, warm, and dry places to learn all while creating 28,000 construction related jobs.''
And passage of the proposed $300-million bond that Magaziner is promoting will create more construction jobs, while helping to "meet the goals of the Act on Climate."
The endorsement is the latest, and most significant, in a series of union endorsements for the term-limited state treasurer.
Magaziner is one of seven Democrats who have declared their candidacies for the seat now held by long-time U.S. Rep. James Langevin, who is not seeking reelection. The number will grow to eight, or more, if others contemplating a run take the plunge.
The AFL-CIO, which represents a reported 80,000 workers across the state, also endorsed First District Congressman David Cicilline for reelection.
“Congressman Cicilline continues to be a strong voice for union members in Congress, advocating for crucial pieces of legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the Raise the Wage Act, and the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act,” said Patrick Crowley, secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO.
David Segal explores CD2 run
Former state representative David Segal is the latest Democrat to consider running to replace Jim Langevin in Congress.
Segal, who lost to U.S. Rep. David Cicilline in the 2010 Democratic primary in the First Congressional District, said on Wednesday he has opened an account with the Federal Elections Commission so he can raise money while deciding whether to run.
"People expect that government should be able to do more for us and they are right," Segal wrote to the Journal. "This is a moment when people are understandably anxious and frustrated and think they need stronger allies in elected leadership. They expect that we should be able to build coalitions to make progress in ways that help working people in all of our communities, and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole career, including as a local and state elected official."
After his unsuccessful 2010 run, Segal co-founded Demand Progress, a progressive advocacy group with a focus on Internet issues.
Before being elected to the state House of Representatives, Segal spent four years on the Providence City Council.
If he decides to enter the race, Segal would join at least six Democrats who have said they plan to run: Omar Bah, Edwin Pacheco, Seth Magaziner, Joy Fox, Cameron Moquin and Michael Neary.
State treasurer faces call to examine pension fund management
As a state treasurer running for Congress, Seth Magaziner has no objection to the study several lawmakers are seeking to identify pension fund investments in defense contractors who manufacture weapons for the military.
"Treasurer Magaziner supports transparency as to where the state's money is invested, and therefore has no objection to this bill,'' a spokesman said.
But his support, as the chairman of the state's investment commission, stops there.
"The bill does not call for the pension fund to end its investments in defense related industries, nor would the Treasurer support such a policy,'' a spokesman for Magaziner said Tuesday.
Why? "My obligation as Treasurer is to produce strong returns for the 60,000 teachers, first responders, nurses and other public servants who depend on the pension system for retirement security, and I do not believe that assisting the United States armed forces in the defense of our country should disqualify a company from investment," Magaziner said.
He was responding to Journal questions about a press release issued Tuesday, by a group calling itself Just Peace RI, to draw attention to legislation (H 7482) introduced last week by Rep. David Morales and at least nine House colleagues.
"The way to peace is not through more weapons," Morales was quoted as saying.
"The United States must lead the way toward a safer world, and in Rhode Island we can do our part by passing a resolution urging our federal government to sign the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, while also passing legislation to learn if our state pension funds are supporting the development of military arms,'' he said.
The legislation is aimed at "arms producing companies, defense contractors or military industries that primarily produce, maintain and store weapons for the armed forces...[including] guns, ammunition, missiles, military aircraft, military vehicles, and military ships."
A 2021 version of the bill, which did not pass, would have required the state to divest any holdings in military weapons manufacturers within 14 months.
Magaziner has not spelled out why he opposes such a move, but his spokesman, Ben Smith, noted: the State Investment Commission, in 2018, "accepted Treasurer Magaziner's recommendation that the pension system no longer invest in companies that manufacture assault-style weapons for civilian use.
"The policy does not extend to companies that manufacture arms and equipment for the United States military." (It is unclear if the R.I. pension fund has any such holdings.)
Michael Neary, a CVS Health analyst, kicks off campaign
WARWICK — Michael Neary, a CVS Health analyst who campaigned for Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the 2016 presidential campaign, officially kicked off his bid to replace Jim Langevin in Congress on Saturday.
In a ballroom at the Crowne Plaza, Neary, a Rhode Island native in the process of moving back to Coventry from Ohio, told 16 supporters that the urgency of the moment compelled him to run.
"If no one is willing to step up and fight for the bold plans that I believe in, then I am going to be out here every single day fighting those ideas on behalf of all Rhode Islanders," he said.
Asked why he thinks Democratic primary voters will embrace a candidate with a history in Republican politics, Neary said the state's voters are independent-minded with a majority unaffiliated and able to cast a ballot in the state's open primaries.
"Like so many other Rhode Islanders, I am an independent thinker. I don't just check a box one way or the other," he told The Journal. "I've got my own ideas and am standing on my own two feet here. No one from either side got me into this race."
After graduating from college, Neary, 28, moved to New Hampshire to work for New Day for America, a pro-Kasich super-PAC.
After Kasich lost the GOP presidential nomination to Donald Trump, Neary was hired as an executive assistance to Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. (Unlike Rhode Island, Ohio's governor and lieutenant governor run as a ticket.)
Taylor ran for governor in 2018, a campaign Neary worked on, according to his LinkedIn profile, and lost the Republican primary to Mike DeWine.
Treas. Magaziner picks up another construction union endorsement for Congressional bid
A second construction trade union has endorsed state Treasurer Seth Magaziner's bid for Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District seat.
On Friday, on the day after Magaziner reaffirmed his support for an additional $300 million in borrowing to fix or build new school buildings across the state, his campaign announced the endorsement of Carpenters Local 330.
“Seth has put our people to work on construction projects all over the state and he understands that carpenters and other tradesmen deserve good wages and safe working conditions,” said President for Carpenters Local 330 Michael Holmes in a statement issued by the Magaziner campaign.
Earlier in the week, Magaziner, who as treasurer chaired a School Buildings Task Force promoted the spending of $1.7 billion on school repairs and construction, announced the endorsement of Ironworkers Local 37.
Bolstering his image as a union-backed candidate in the crowded Democratic race for the seat U.S. Rep. James Langevin is leaving after his current term ends, Magaziner also announced an endorsement by Unite Here Local 26, representing workers in across school cafeterias, hotels, the Rhode Island T.F. Green Airport, and Bally’s.
— Carlos Aramayo (@Carlos_Aramayo) February 17, 2022
Governor McKee to announce election bid
On Tuesday, Gov. Dan McKee will officially announce that he is running to keep the job to which he ascended when then-Gov. Gina Raimondo left last March for a post in the Biden administration.
McKee campaign manager Brexton Isaacs told The Journal that details of the Feb. 22 announcement are still coming together, but the timing seemed right.
The governor had initially planned to announce his candidacy in late January, after delivering his state of the state address and proposed budget to legislators. Isaacs said he decided to hold off and stay "very focused on governing" – and making sure "school were staying open, small businesses were being supported" at a time when COVID cases were spiking.
"Governing comes first and politics comes later and so he spent January very focused on the COVID spike," Isaccs said.
Democrat McKee, who was lieutenant governor before his midterm elevation to the top job, faces four challengers within his own party: Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes and Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz.
Congressional candidate Magaziner wins union backing
State Treasurer Seth Magaziner has picked up his first union endorsement in his run for Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District seat.
Magaziner, who as treasurer chaired a School Buildings Task Force and promoted the spending of $1.7 billion on school repairs and construction, announced the endorsement of Ironworkers Local 37.
“Seth’s school construction initiative has put Ironworkers to work around the state as we proudly build and renovate the schools our own children and our neighbors attend," said Ironworkers Local 37 Business Manager David Langlais, in a statement made public by Magaziner's campaign.
."We know he will fight in Washington for working families and we enthusiastically support him," Langlais said.
The Ironworkers Local 37 gave Magaziner his first union endorsement in his bid for General Treasurer in 2014.
Providence cop says he's running for lieutenant governor
Providence police officer Jeann Lugo, quietly and without any fanfare, filed paperwork with the Rhode Island Board of Elections in mid-December to mount a Republican run for the state's No. 2 job.
Lugo also created a website – lugoforltgov.com – in which he describes himself as: "a Hispanic migrant from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico'' who moved to the Valley area of Providence in 1992 with his mother and two brothers.
His backstory: "In the summer of 2000, a domestic incident resulted in the separation of his family by the Providence Police Department/ Social Services. At age 13, Jeann was placed into the custody of DCYF. Jeann remained in foster care until he reached adulthood."
After taking college courses at the Community College of Rhode Island, he says, he worked for a security firm for 15 years in Greater Boston, and in June 2019, he graduated from the 69th Providence Police Academy.
Lugo, who lives in Warwick, plans a formal announcement later.
According to Providence Police Commissioner Steven Paré, Lugo is a uniformed patrolman who works the 3 to 11 p.m. shift on the East Side. While other city police officers have run for office, such as a legislative seat, Paré said he was unaware of any who have run for state level office.
There are no prohibitions on doing so as long as there is no campaign activity on the job, he said.
Gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes backs gun control
On Monday, on the fourth anniversary of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Democratic candidate for governor Helena Foulkes declared her support for legislation to place a 10-round limit on high-capacity magazines and ban assault weapons.
“It’s unacceptable that in a state as Democratic as Rhode Island, we are so far behind our neighbors when it comes to gun safety," she said.
“I am incredibly grateful to the legislators and activists who have been fighting for this legislation for years and promise that you will have a strong advocate in the State House when I am elected governor."
Gun-control supporters in the legislature have reintroduced the bills this year, Foulkes said:
Michael Neary schedules announcement; Bah unveils website
Michael Neary, one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination to run for Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District seat, has scheduled his official campaign announcement for Saturday at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick. He plans to hold the event between noon and 2 p.m. in the plaza ballroom.
Meanwhile, Congressional candidate Omar Bah unveiled his new campaign website –bahforcongress.com – while declaring his support for a slate of progressive causes.
Democrat Bah, who is also seeking the Second District Congressional seat that long-time U.S. Rep. James Langevin is vacating, listed among his priorities: "Defending our planet, by supporting the Green New Deal; Defending democracy, with a specific focus on ensuring access to the ballot ... and working to remove big money from politics ... Defending a woman’s right to choose ... promoting science literacy ... Defending economic opportunity, by supporting the passage of the PRO act, which will ensure workers' right to unionize, and by supporting expanded federal support for technical, vocational, and on-the-job training programs."
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: RI Election 2022: The latest news in the highest-profile campaigns